Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Overview

Colorectal cancer starts in the large intestine (colon) or lower end of the colon (rectum). It’s one of the most common types of cancer in the United States.

The colon absorbs nutrients and water from digested food and creates waste (stool).

Nearly all colorectal cancers begin as small growths (polyps) inside the lining of the colon or rectum.

While most are harmless (benign), some may turn into cancer over time.

Polyps should be monitored and removed.

A cancerous growth (malignant tumor) may damage surrounding normal tissue. Cancerous cells can also:

  • Enter the bloodstream and lymph nodes (lymphatic system).
  • Spread to other parts of the body (metastasize).
Additional References:

Risk Factors

The cause of colorectal cancer isn’t clear. However, your risk is higher if you:

  • Have a history of colon polyps.
  • Are age 50 years or older.
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
  • Have a history of smoking.

The chance of a polyp turning into cancer is related to the size of the polyp and other factors. For example, a polyp that’s 1 centimeter (about half an inch) has a 1 percent chance each year of turning into cancer. This is true especially in adults over age 50.

If a family member had colorectal cancer, it doesn’t mean it’s the kind that’s passed down in families (hereditary). Most colorectal cancers aren’t related to a mutated gene (inherited).

Additional References:

Symptoms

Common symptoms of colorectal cancer can include:

  • Significant and sustained changes in bowel habits
  • Blood in your stool
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent gas pains or bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you experience these symptoms, contact us for further testing and colorectal cancer screening.

Additional References:

Screening

One of the most effective tools in the fight against colorectal cancer is early detection through screening. When found early, there’s a better chance of successful treatment.

Screening options:

  • Fecal immunochemical test or “FIT." Stool sample to detect blood.
  • Sigmoidoscopy. Lighted, flexible tube with a camera to view the lower part of the colon.
  • Colonoscopy. Lighted, flexible tube with a camera to examine the full colon.

We look for signs of bleeding and for small growths (polyps) that can develop in the colon or rectum. Polyps can be:

  • Noncancerous (benign)
  • Precancerous
  • Cancerous (malignant)

While most polyps are noncancerous, some may become cancerous. If we find a polyp, we’ll remove it and send it to the pathology laboratory. If it’s cancerous, the type and severity of the cancer will be identified.

Staging

Staging means how far the cancer has spread. Your treatment is based on the stage of the cancer.

To stage the cancer, we use:

  • CT scans
  • Blood tests
  • The results of other diagnostic procedures

For early-stage colorectal cancer, we may have to wait until after surgery to stage the cancer. Once the cancer is removed, it’s carefully examined by the pathologist.

  • Stage 0. The cancer is only found in the innermost lining of the colon or rectum.
  • Stage I. The cancer has spread to the lining but remains within the walls.
  • Stage II. The cancer has grown through the walls and possibly entered nearby tissue but no lymph nodes.
  • Stage III. The cancer has spread into lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV. The cancer has spread to other organs (such as the liver or lungs) or to lymph nodes far away from the colon or rectum.
Additional References:

Prevention

Colorectal cancer is slow growing and one of the most preventable cancers. Regular screening for colorectal cancer is key. This can prevent:

  • Precancerous polyps from turning into cancer. 
  • Early stage cancer from growing into a more serious cancer.

You can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as:

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Avoid smoking and using tobacco products.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type and severity of your colorectal cancer. Treatment for colon cancer can also be different from treatment for rectal cancer.

First, we’ll analyze all of your diagnostic procedures and tests. Then, we’ll work together with you to create the best treatment plan.

For colon cancer, the most common treatment is surgery, followed by possible chemotherapy.

For rectal cancer, the most common treatment is a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Follow-up Care

One of the most important parts of your care is taking good care of yourself during and after treatment.

  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Stay as active as possible.
  • Attend your follow-up appointments.
  • Join a support group where you can talk to people who may have an experience similar to yours.
Additional References:

Related Health Tools:

Interactive Programs
Podcasts
Prepare for Your Procedure

See more Health Tools »

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.